A fiance visa or marriage visa can be an exciting opportunity to begin a new life in a new country. It can offer stability, new employment opportunities, and a bright future for you and your family.
But for an unfortunate few, the marriage green card process can turn into a nightmare. The visa process depends upon the partner who is a US citizen filing a petition in support of their partner. Called an I-130 petition, it allows the partner to file for their green card.
Unfortunately, abusive partners may threaten to withdraw this petition, leaving the non-citizen’s immigration status and future uncertain. Here, we’ll discuss what your options are in the case of an abusive partner, and how you can protect your rights and legally remain in the United States.
When you apply for a marriage visa, there is a period where you live in the US without a green card as your I-130 petition is processed. If your spouse threatens to withdraw this petition before you have received your green card, you could be at risk of deportation.
Fortunately, there is a law in place to protect victims of abuse. Called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it was passed in 1994 to offer a wide range of protection to women and their children who suffer from domestic abuse. Part of this protection relates to immigrants who are threatened and abused by their partner.
The VAWA allows spouses and intended spouses of US citizens to obtain a green card without a petition of support. That means that you can obtain a green card, even if you get divorced before the marriage visa process is complete.
The qualifications for this self-petition (called form I-360) are:
Your children can also file their own I-360 form, under the following conditions
Your child need not file a separate I-360, however, and can receive the same status adjustment as you, even if they were not abused. This protects families, and allows women who have been abused to keep their children with them, even if the children were not around the abusive partner.
Who qualifies and when can vary, so it’s best to contact an experienced immigration attorney so that you know your rights and pursue the best legal strategy to obtain lawful residence in the case of abuse.
If you are abused by one of your children, you are also eligible to file an I-360 form, so long as the child is older than 21 and a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. You must meet the following conditions:
You may feel that your partner is abusive towards you or your children, but not know if you qualify for protection. Abuse, however, does not have to come with physical trauma or evidence.
If your partner is verbally threatening you, forcing sexual intercourse, or psychologically abusing you, this could be considered abusive behavior and qualify you for VAWA protections. Any evidence you have of this abuse, such as messages, voicemails, or notes, should be be saved, as it could be crucial when you present your case to obtain a green card.
A self-petition through an I-360 form will make you a Lawful Permanent Resident, meaning you won’t yet be a United States citizen. However, you can file for naturalization and become a citizen just three years after you obtain your green card. This also applies to any children that are listed on the I-360 form you filed.
Knowing what you options are can be difficult after abuse. It is a scary, uncertain time for you and your family. That’s why you should contact a skilled immigration attorney right away.
At Monument Immigration, we have years of experience working with immigration law from all different angles. We can help guide you through the visa process, and will fight to protect your rights every step of the way.
We know that time is of the essence when it comes to getting your case ready. That’s why we work quickly to ensure that you and your case are fully prepared.